August 14, 2023 | By: Catherine Keith

This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and the University of North Florida’s Applied Journalism class.

Joe Camara died almost 30 years ago, but his memory still lives on through his loved ones.

“He has taught me to live life and not take anyone for granted,” said his wife, Judy Camara.

Camara was born in Portugal and raised alongside his two sisters. In search of a better life, his parents moved the family to California when he was a child. Once they arrived, Camara’s parents followed a family tradition of working on a dairy farm.

Camara loved to go roping on his time off, part of his love of the country lifestyle and horseback riding. After going roping for hours, he would come home and spend time with his family.

“He was very laid back,” Judy said. “He never had a hot temper.”

“He was always a good guy and didn’t have any enemies.”

On February 14th, 1996, Camara was killed, shot to death just as he arrived at the dairy farm for his daily shift.

Camara loved spending his free time with his wife, Judy, and his family. At the time of his death, the couple had a 3-year-old son. They all loved spending time at the beach and Lake Tahoe, where the couple had married. Joe loved holidays that included family time like Thanksgiving, or the thrill of passing out candy on Halloween.

Judy describes her favorite memory of him being his jokes, and how much they would laugh with each other. “He had a contagious laugh. When he would tell a joke, no one could stop themselves from laughing along with him,” she said.

Camara loved taking care of animals. He loved his dogs, his horses, and even the pigeons he once raised. “He was full of love, and I can’t tell you anyone that didn’t like him,” said Judy.

Until this day, Judy thinks about her late husband, with such sadness, saying it still feels like it all happened yesterday.

August 10th is his birthday, and Judy stated that they are always thinking of Joe everyday throughout the year.

When asked what has affected her the most after his sudden passing, Judy said, “Almost three decades later, I have a hard time going to bed, and I think it’s because he isn’t there next to me.”

A $50,000 reward was offered by the Governor of California but has never led to an arrest. Please contact the California Governor’s Office or Citizens Against Homicide for information on that reward’s eligibility.

If you have information on the unsolved murder of Joe Camara, please contact the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office at (559) 600-3111. To remain anonymous and possibly eligible for a reward, call Valley Crime Stoppers at (599) 498-STOP.

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If you have a loved one that is the victim of an unsolved homicide, please submit their case here for consideration in a future Cold Case Spotlight post.

Newspaper Clippings

The Fresno Bee

The Fresno Bee - April 24, 1996

The Fresno Bee - April 24, 1996

The Fresno Bee

Photo Album

Images provided by the family of Joe Camara

Images provided by the family of Joe Camara